Review: 2018-10-05 - House of Blues – Chicago, IL



  • We are nerds. From Chicago. Who now live in Phoenix. The last time we saw the guys live was the heady NYE run which basically means it has been WAY too long in between Spafford shows. We were planning on doing the CO run in March, but adulting unfortunately got in the way. We boarded our plane geeked out for the shows and a packed weekend of family and friends in our Sweet Home Chicago. We met up with our homies Tom and Sarah Sommers (two of our favorite people in this universe) and went for a drink across the street from HOB a few hours before doors. What did we talk about? Dunno. What did we drink? Dunno. All we cared about was time for doors and securing our rail spot, just where @Bee-Man-Dan likes it right in front of Brian and Jordan. We met up with @LAfadeaway and @mdjabber, you know the ones, and got into the Foundation Room to start pre-gaming properly. Thanks for the hook up, Lance, you rock.

    The opener Southern Avenue came on. They weren’t bad, got us moving and warmed up for the Phx Four to get on out there. At some point during the opener Sarah looked way up into the balcony and spotted Brian and Jordan checking out the scene as well. We started waving at them like the total Nerd girls we are. They waved back and I am sure we giggled like we were back in 4th grade. The room was starting to fill and get louder and louder (chomp-chomp).

    We had a few friends meeting us at the show that had no clue what they were in for. There is no other way to explain Spafford other than to cajole and coerce your friends into seeing them. They had no idea what they were in for, even for the Phish/Dead fans they are. There are Nerds everywhere and you could feel the collective love and anticipation in the air. Love and hugs abounded with Nerds meeting Nerds for the first time, running into old friends, new friends, wooks, fans, people that were checking out other Big Weekend shows and didn’t know what they were about to experience, the whole gamut.

    The boys come on and drop into Red’s Jam > The Postman and it took us the entire 40 something minutes of this to realize that “our” beloved FC BEE is back on Jordan’s amp, with a noticeable eyelift, I wonder which of the crew has a side gig as a Plastic Surgeon? That sweet little Bee that is so very meaningful to us was tucked into the amp like the 6th member of the band (Chuck Johnson is #5 if ya didn’t know) and as dorky as it seems, made me tear up just a bit. Or maybe it was from the vape haze, who knows.

    The fire cover of Too Close starts and I realize that we are getting near the end of the first set. How is that possible when I swear they had just started playing like 5 minutes ago? Ain’t That Wrong was a perfect set one closer with the Sax stylings of the one and only Jason Singer, which if you don’t know the story about this guy you are missing out. I will save you the wear and tear on your phalanges by not having to search for the Relix article that tells all.

    By this time I had left my sacred rail spot to take care of a friend of ours that was over-served and missed saying goodbye to some of our friends that had come to the show and had to leave at set break. Find out why. Just kidding, guys, I love you all!! What I did notice from my babysitting perch was that the place was PACKED. I saw Security going after people for vaping, doesn’t surprise me that much given the venue, but really seemed kinda lame. Everyone was pretty cool, I didn’t see too many people in the crowd getting out of hand.

    During set break we were all still on our Spafford adrenaline high counting the minutes for set two. What I did notice was that the chompers were in full force. A bone of contention in the jam scene, but something that is pretty unavoidable at a venue like this with a music filled weekend scheduled with bands playing in different spots all over the city. Some people come to hear the music as the background and catch up with friends like its Coffee Talk, some come to get lost in the funk these boys throw down. I know which crowd I’m in, I would rather absorb and experience what they are putting out there other than talking all over it, but whatevs, besides turning around and telling people to shut the fuck up (which I have been known to do before) there is not much that can be done about it.

    Set break is over, and the crowd is just waiting to see what we are going to be served for second set. Lovesick Melody That’s right Lovesick fucking Melody > Soil pure magic. Those lyrics though:

    It all gives way to what’s to come in an essential ebb and flow.
    We breathe it deep and let it go and move within
    this fragile moment we call life!

    Damn! Why can’t I put my feelings into lyrics and notes like that? Oh right, because I am not talented and this is why I am a music lover, not a musician, singer, or songwriter. My 4th grade chorus teacher during practice one day told everyone to keep singing except for me. Then he said “Hey Lisa, see how much better the chorus sounds without you?” So my dreams of a singing career were shattered, which is fine by me, let the experts do their thing so we can just enjoy the sweet jammy goodness that comes out of these guys.

    Todd’s Tots is served up with all the crispy goodness you would expect. So so good. That’s all I have to say about that. My Road (My Road) is more pure Spaff magic. This is another one that speaks to me:

    This road isn’t easy, but it’ll all be worth it.
    No cause for alarm.
    Out of sight, but it’s on my mind.

    On Fire BOOM! we know the end of second set is closing in on us. This is another sick cover that they just slay. How is N1 almost over? Say it isn’t so. The crowd was on fire and the entire HOB neighborhood must have been shaking from the sound that had just filled up the venue for several hours.

    It’s just midnight in The Chi, the boys walk back out for encore….what are we gonna get? You never know with this crew. Red lays down the opening notes of Beautiful Day. Our 16th wedding anniversary was ushered in by a Beautiful Day encore. It doesn’t get much better than that……and we knew that Night Two was going to bring some sticky, sick, insanity that one expects from a late night show. We floated out of the venue so pumped, happily exhausted, and hungry as fuck so we did what has become tradition for Dan and I after any show or night in the city…a proper stop at New York Bagel and Bialy. The best 24 hour deli you can find, it sits on the border of Chicago and Skokie (60076 shout out!) and it is the perfect stop when you are starving but it’s too late to sit down somewhere and you don’t want Colon Blow (Taco Bell) before catching some zzz’s. We may or may not have left an IKI slap there that some other Nerds (Warren and Tim) may or may not have found when they stopped there too. Perfect ending to the first act of our Big Weekend adventure.



  • Awesome review!

    In many ways I'm glad FC 🐝 became what he has. I'm glad he is something for you and Dan to look forward to, and for everyone else too. A focal point and a reminder of this fragile life that we live. The whim that created him could never have imagined the way it has shaped our Spaffnerd world, for better or for worse. I'm so looking forward to riding the rail with you both at the place where it all began, Flagstaff, 2 weeks and 4 days short of one year later. So much has changed. ✌❤🎶🐝💛🐝😎


  • A

    I love your review, Lisa! What a fantastic show, too. Short thought that ATW may be, the sax part is so fucking good. And I've liked Lovesick > Soil since it debuted last winter, but I'll admit I never wholly fell for it until my first chance to see it last weekend in Billyburg. Damn, that song packs a whole shitton of feeling and philosophies into its 1-2 punch. Hope we get to rage a show together someday soon! Keep it nerdy :)


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